Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Conversation with Michelynn ‘Miki’ Woodard, President and COO of West Brands, LLC & Vice Chair of the Kanye West Foundation

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I feature many posts on celebrity philanthropy. Now more than ever, African American entertainers are using their status to highlight issues of importance to them, such as singer Alicia Keys increasing awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Michelynn ‘Miki’ Woodard, who is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Kanye West’s business company, West Brands, LLC and the Vice Chair of the Kanye West Foundation. This post is first in a series of profiles on individuals who have made a significant impact in the field of philanthropy.

In Miki’s current role as President and COO, she is responsible for overseeing Kanye’s growing portfolio of businesses, which includes his record label, touring and music publishing enterprises. Prior to this position, Miki served as the Program Director at the Creative Artists Agency Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading talent and literary firm.

A Hampton University graduate, Miki was inspired to enter into philanthropic work from a personal experience with a friend who was a mentor. It was through this experience that she met her future boss at CAA and subsequently served on boards of various non profit organizations, such as Peace4Kids and the Community Coalition.

While in that role, Miki guided CAA clients who wanted to donate their time and use their celebrity for philanthropic causes. She worked with the Twenty-First Century Foundation, an African American led grantmaking foundation assisting individuals such as Jamie Foxx and Earth, Wind and Fire to focus their efforts by giving information and advice. Miki was also instrumental in the creation of the ONE campaign, a non-profit advocacy and humanitarian organization dedicated to raising public awareness about global AIDS and poverty, which includes Angelina Jolie and Bono as supporters.

When asked what advice she has for those interested in a career in philanthropy, she says, “the act of giving back is phenomenal...understand that philanthropy is a business and the approach needs to be systematic and strategic.”

Dr. Donda West, mother of Kanye West and Chair of the Kanye West Foundation told me about Miki:

Read most recent interview here.
“She is wonderful and very detail oriented…she is very adept in this
area [philanthropy] and we are very fortunate to have her.”